Friday, 13 December 2013

Continuous problems in Singapore are symptomatic of Leadership failure

The image of police cars in flames and riot police in full gear is a tragic scene that is now embossed into the horrified minds of Singaporeans. Never in 40 years has there been a riot in the secure and safe Singapore that Singaporeans are proud of. Of course, it is being argued now that the riots were caused by a minority of foreign workers and that most here are law-abiding and some were even heroes trying to stop the rioters from hurting people. The authorities have taken swift action, arrested and charged 27 men who were directly involved. A Committee of Inquiry (COI) has been set up to investigate the reason behind the riot.

There are a lot of questions being asked on the riot, why did the rioters only attacked uniformed cars and personnel? Rioters in other countries typically take the opportunity to loot shops and steal stuff ? Considering that the Police Force is the authority giving out liquor licenses, why did they give out 374 licenses in the area, and now alcohol is the culprit?

But looking at the bigger picture, the key question that begs to be answered is whether this riot has been preordained with the continuous problems in Singapore?

The most recent incident before this was the July 2013 brutal Kovan murder of a 67-year old owner of a motor workshop and his 43-year old son at their home at Hillside Drive allegedly by a Police Senior Staff Sergeant no less.  

Worthy of mention is also the Oct 2013 corruption case of a Singapore diplomat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) by overbilling authorities by S$89,000 by overstating the amount of gift bought for official purposes. Worse still, an assistant director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), anti-corruption watchdog, was charged with misappropriating S$1.7 million. Part of the money was allegedly used for gambling at the Marina Bay Sands Casino.

In May 2013, the highest ranking civil servant in recent times, the Civil Defense Force (CDF) chief was found guilty of trading contracts for sex. An associate professor of law was also found guilty of abusing his position by having sex with a student and taking gifts from her.

Related to the Little India’s foreign workers riots, there was the Nov 2012 two-days illegal strike by 170 SMRT Chinese bus drivers to protest against pay and living conditions. This was the first strike in Singapore in 25 years. As a warning to the rest, the ring leaders were jailed six-weeks and then deported back to China.

And the list can go on with the Dec 2011 major disruption in SMRT, the flooding of Orchard road in Jun 2010 and escape of the terrorist Mas Selamat.

Sure the Singapore leadership can claim that these are discrete and isolated events, but are they?

A simple benchmarking would be the period of leadership before LHL was appointed the Prime Minister in 2004. Sure there were some difficulties during GCT’s leadership, but a riot and a strike in the space of one year? At least in my mind, it is a clear failure of the current leadership.

So what are the possible causes for the failure in leadership?

1.   A group-think mentality and incestuous talent pool

Despite claims to the contrary, the group-think mentality cannot be swept under the carpet. A disproportionate number of the ministers are from the SAF, specifically the Transport Minister, the Manpower Minister, the Minister for Home Affairs & Deputy Prime Minister and even the Prime Minister himself. Several others are from the Civil Service or Government related agencies. If you surround yourself with Yes-Men and Yes-Women, you are just like the Emperor with no clothes.

2.   Complacency and money driven view of the world

The self-righteous view of the leadership is that if they provide economic growth for Singapore, the society would begrudgingly accept their money drive view of the world and fall in line. The corruption cases are partly influenced by such a value of chasing money. They obstinately import foreigners into Singapore to drive growth, making up 1.3 million of the total 5.4 million on the small island, without due consideration of the consequences of their actions.

The complacency was further demonstrated by a Population White Paper planning to squeeze 6.9 million into Singapore, which lead to a large protest at Hong Lim Park un-heard of in Singapore.
3.   Focusing on fixing the Opposition, rather than fixing the problems

With a bruising 2011 General Elections and 2 humiliating By-election defeats, the ruling party has spent more time and effort trying to discredit the main opposition party than focusing on solving the problems that they had caused in the first place. Un-necessary air time in Parliament and state-owned media was used to debate quarterly hawker centre ceiling cleaning, when the time should have been put to better use. It is actually ironical and also poetic that the ruling party had a convention on the same day as the riots, with plans to take the offensive against the opposition in the next General Elections. People in power are just paranoid of losing power.
So the final question to ask is whether the Little India riots is the final display of the leadership failure that we will see in Singapore ? I seriously doubt it. More spectacular boo-boos are just waiting to manifest, I just hope no more Singaporeans get hurt.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

New Useful App: GrabTaxi

The mobile app is currently the only taxi booking app in Singapore that connects the commuter directly to the taxi driver's personal smartphone. Commuters can also include their destination when booking a taxi, which increases the possibilities of securing a successful booking, since taxi drivers would be more likely to accept booking offers if the destination is along their desired route. This is especially important during shift change periods when booking taxis is difficult unless the destination is nearby or on the way for the taxi driver.

After GrabTaxi is launched, it'll automatically detect the commuter's current location using the smartphone's in-built GPS and show the number of available taxis near you. The commuter selects the desired destination and the booking request is sent to taxi drivers near you. The drivers will then bid for the job and the taxi driver nearest to the commuter will be assigned the booking. The commuter will receive a booking confirmation within one minute, together with information such as estimated time of arrival, taxi number, and the driver’s contact details. The commuter can also track the real-time location of the booked taxi.

The GrabTaxi app is available for download for iOS devices, Android devices and Windows phones.

Personally I have tried to use this GrabTaxi app and though it managed to identify a couple of Taxis near my location, but I have not successfully got them yet. I think a few more taxi drivers need to get involved and also more advertisement and marketing is needed (hence this blog post). I am supportive of it as it is disruptive and takes the power away for the Taxi Cartels and put it in the hands of customers and taxi drivers (Why PAY booking fee if you can avoid it!?) When I was in KL Malaysia recently, I noticed a lot more taxi drivers are already on the network so it was easier to catch on.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Friday, 20 September 2013

Respect ! Towards a First World Singapore !

"To build a democratic society based on justice and equality"

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Oxymoron - Capland

Epic Fail by the marketers of CapLand, in the same newspaper, it shows that Sky Habitat prices are the most unrealistic and highest...and they claim a down to earth price?

I was talking to a mortgage loan officer and after the TDSR implementation, less than 50% of the applications are accepted by the banks ! BURN Capland BURN !

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Property Guru says 9,000 troubled units could be released into Singapore market

Property Guru says 9,000 troubled units could be released into Singapore market.
Buy at your own risk !

Up to 9,000 Singapore private property owners could be forced to sell their homes if interest rates rise in the city-state, according to an analyst report published today.

On the back of news that up to 10 percent of Singapore households may have already over-leveraged their private property purchases beyond the new 60 percent limit that was recently imposed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), wealth management firm Religare Enterprises has cautioned its clients to avoid investing in Singapore property developers.

In its ASEAN Property Pulse report released today, the research arm of the India-based firm explained that between 10 -15 percent of borrowers could be in financial trouble should interest rates rise in Singapore.

MAS has reported that between five to 10 percent of Singapore households could have over-extended themselves, fuelled by low interest rates and stretched loan tenures.  The majority of mortgage loans in Singapore are floating rate packages, according to the company, which means households will face higher monthly repayments when interest rates normalise.

Religare has predicted that a rise in interest rates could see more than 9,000 financially troubled
properties being listed on the market – assuming a figure of 10 percent of the 90,000 private homes that are scheduled to be completed between now and 2016.

The authors of the report said: "Another worrying statistic is that only 70 percent of the loans are for owner-occupied homes, meaning investor demand in private homes is running quite high."
Housing Development Board (HDB) properties and executive condominiums (ECs) have to be purchased for self-occupation, the company noted, so all property investment demand is in the private property sector.

"A little wobble in prices combined with higher interest rates might shake up a few property investors as well and add to the possible troubled units on the market," the report said.
The company has advised its clients to be cautious on the Singapore residential property market and against investing in Singapore property developer shares.
"We expect prices and rents to correct over 2014-15 on the back of completion of more than 90,000 units between 2H 2013 and 2016," it predicted.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Singapore household debt soared to 77.2% of GDP !!! Same as Asian Financial Crisis !

The last time that the Singapore Household Debt was 77 percent of GDP was just before the Asian Financial Crisis!

According to Moody's, Singapore’s banking system has been operating in a favorable operating environment for an extended period, with low interest rates and strong economic growth domestically and in the surrounding region.
This environment has given rise to strong credit growth and asset inflation in both the real estate and financial markets.
Here's more from Moody's:
Domestically, household debt increased to 77.2% of GDP as of March 2013 from 64.4% at end-2007.  
For the same time period, prices for private property grew 1.2 times and prices for Housing Development Board (HDB) real estate 1.7 times. Regionally, we observe similar or even more dramatic trends. 
With the potential risk of a turn in the interest rate cycle, we view strong asset inflation and credit growth trends as vulnerabilities, as this combination would likely cause credit costs to rise from their current low base. If interest rates rise, we therefore expect rising credit costs to outweigh any potential increases in lending margins. 
While it is difficult to exactly predict turning points in banking credit cycles, the increased likelihood of tightening of US monetary policy - with a higher probability of a tapering of quantitative easing during our outlook period - is a potential trigger. There will be effects for interest rates in Singapore and the surrounding region, as well as for capital flows in and out of the emerging markets where Singapore banks are active.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Poem on the HAZE

Poem on the HAZE

The smell of smoke permeates the air.
It is on our clothes and our hair.

When we ask a solution of our government,
they wring their hands and say "it's a predicament."

"We will make the calls, and express our distress.
We can do nothing more than be a pest."

Twenty-year problem we cannot solve.
Maybe there is not enough resolve?

20 year old HAZE problem Not Solved - Lousy Excuses from Singapore Gahmen

The 20 year old HAZE problem has Not been Solved and instead of managing and explaining the situation, the Singapore Gahmen is trying to defend themselves in an arrogant and condescending manner. I did not want to weigh in on the issue, but I just could not stand their excuses!!!!!

Firstly, Minister V has taken the side of the Indonesian officials in saying that Malaysian and Singapore companies are the ones who are the culprits and justice will be brought against them.
Okay, we are waiting, if it is Temasek / GIC owned companies what are you going to do?

Secondly, Minister S is saying that Netizens should not blame the gahmen for the haze problem. Hello?! Dun blame you then blame who? Gahmen always claim that we have ASEAN and good friends with our larger neighbours, but when got problem just say that each country is sovereign . Please grow a pair ! No Testicular Fortitude at all !

Hey we got such a large defence budget, instead of buying so many expensive F-35 planes, go and buy several fire fighting aircraft to put out the fires lah.
Implement all the green initiatives, such as cleaner petrol, electric cars, control car pollution, high price of smoking...all in vain when Indonesia burn their forests!


Sunday, 2 June 2013

MDA’s SledgeHammer approach to the Internet

The Singapore’s MDA has recently imposed a new online licensing scheme requiring websites that report on Singapore news and have at least 50,000 visitors a month to obtain annual licenses. The websites will also have to post a performance bond of S$50,000.

This blog website who has less than 50 readers a day will definitely not need to go through this crazy licensing, but since all the rules are arbitrary and fuzzy anyways who says they might not change it to 1 reader requirement in the future. We interviewed a few people on the street to get their thoughts.

Banker Jing Bo Eng was rushing off to work with his Starbucks and Prada manbag when we stopped him to ask some questions, “new licensing scheme for new websites? Okay lah, I dun really read Singapore news anyways, so boring, some politician visiting, govt agency killing mosquitoes, some Singaporean got some award, army personnel cleaning up beaches.” He paused, as he suddenly was distracted by a lady in a short mini-skirt walking by. He turned back and comment,” I use the Internet for online gambling, soccer betting, porn websites and downloading bootleg movies lah, now if they clamp down on these, I immediately migrate and take all my CPF away I tell you!”

We also managed to catch up with Internet Entrepreneur Mr Wong I-Dear, and he was concerned with the trend that seems to be occurring, “We are monitoring the current situation closely and are concerned that this just the start of a larger plan to control the internet and internet users. Our worry is that this rules can apply to all forms of internet media and businesses. So if we set up a gaming website which borders on gambling and have 50,000 per month and profitable, does that mean we are under the rules too? It does seem that the government just wants to take money from businesses and people in all ways, no wonder they are called Pay & Pay.”

Housewife Mrs Mei Li Hoh was very harsh with her words, “Wah-lao eh, so many other problems like MRT breakdowns, crazy property & car prices, indiscriminate import of foreigners, dengue fever all never solve! Spent the time to do all this ‘eat full nothing to do’ [Jiak Bah, Bo Sai Pang] stuff to regulate the internet, tell them to go and piss into the ocean lah!”

MDA’s Senior Director Boh Zo Kang defended the new ruling as necessary to ensure that Singaporeans get the right news that they deserve and it was never intended to regulate the internet, though if they manage to convince the masses, they may consider expanding the ruling. “We are in the experimental stage with this ruling, we really like the potential controls and regulations that will come to the Internet. Next in our long term unrealistic plans is to solve world hunger and set up colonies of Singaporeans on Planet Mars.”

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Really?! Rent out your car bumper space to earn money !

I really saw this guy advertising the new website and business plan of renting out car bumper space to earn money!
It is an innovative idea and considering the number of cars on the roads, it is a ready source of advertising real estate space on cars. The idea is probably the same as the adverts in front of urinals where men stand and are forced to look in front.

However, there are some doubts on how it will actually work.
(1) The website states that you bid, drive and then earn. So does that mean that only if your car is a certain make then they will ask you to advertise?
(2) So let's say you win the bid, how can the company ensure that you will continue to have the car decal on your car for say a month or so? How to police that ?
(3) How about the distance that is driven? What if the owner does not meet the minimum distance?
(4) For taxis it is quite clear they have the incentive to be on the roads continuously to earn a living so the adverts on the taxis will be seen.

In any case, it will be interesting when the website actually starts up in May 2013 !

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Don't read the Singapore Newspapers!

Don't read the Singapore Newspapers. The real stories and truth are from unbiased eyes. See the story below from the Star !

Foreign workers, who were once getting red carpet treatment because they were prepared to work cheaper and longer hours, are facing tougher times. The doors will remain open but some of the old cordiality is missing.

FROM Filipino waiters to Indian executives, from Malaysian managers to Chinese salesgirls, their presence seems heading for at least a temporary decline.

Several converging factors are conspiring to bring this about.

The first is the fast changing politics. The new Singaporeans, young and middle-aged, are becoming more outspoken against poor policies.

Explaining the phenomenon, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his government now has to negotiate a “major change” to a different brand of politics.

“It’s a different generation, a different society…” Lee told an interviewer. “We have to work in a more open way. We have to accept more of the untidiness.”

In rising numbers, Singaporeans are demanding the authorities to cut back the number of arrivals and reduce Singapore’s over-crowdedness.

Many of the foreign workers, who make up a third of the work-force, are concerned about the proposed economic restructuring that is aimed at them, right at the heart of immigration.

Secondly, a weakening economy that may reduce employability and a third factor is the city’s high cost of living which is increasingly affecting these workers as well.

All this is not expected to affect the city’s long-term plan for a six million population by 2020 (currently 5.3 million).

However, the next few years could further cut their rate of arrivals.

“The six million target may at worse be delayed by a few years. The immediate concern of the People’s Action Party (PAP) is to win the election in 2016,” said a political analyst.

To achieve that, it is making short-term adjustments, he added.

The government has taken a more urgent tone since the new budget was announced last month. It has rolled out several important measures towards a “Singaporeans first” policy.

That means firstly, a reduction of excessive demand for foreigners in both the service and unskilled sectors.

Less-skilled: The impact was felt in this sector last year which saw a big reduction of new permits, affecting restaurants, retail, cleaning, etc.

Professionals: The Manpower Ministry announced two objectives that will affect them. One was to reduce discrimination in the hiring and promotion of locals.

Secondly, it wants to carefully screen the qualifications and credentials of imported professionals to ensure they are genuine.

There had been numerous complaints of fake degrees or false representations by under-skilled foreigners desperate to land a job here.

The Acting Minister of Manpower Tan Thuan Jin wants to stop the discriminatory practice by foreign managers who hire and promote workers from their own nationalities, bypassing Singaporeans.

He told Parliament recently that he and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam had met senior bankers and other executives urging them to hire, and give better opportunities, to more locals.

His ministry was investigating several cases of discriminations.

One “fairly prominent company” had its work pass privileges suspended after it advertised for workers of a certain nationality, he said.

When a new system of approving S-Passes, granted to mid-level executives, comes into effect in July, as many as 70,000 foreign workers are reportedly at risk “of not having their S Passes renewed when they expire”.

News reports said the new system stipulates that more experienced pass holders have to be employed at higher pay to continue working here.

Government officials said about 70,000 foreigners – or one in two S-Pass holders - will be affected by the new system.

All these moves could have a major impact on the foreign presence in Singapore, if it is seriously carried out.

Meanwhile, this trend coincides with a slight deterioration of the industrial climate involving lower-skilled foreign workers, particularly Chinese mainlanders.

Since last November’s major bus drivers’ strike, there has been a number of smaller scattered actions by Chinese workers demanding higher pay and better working conditions.

The latest case involved private bus operators in which a number of Chinese drivers had taken individual action to demand equal pay with their Singaporean colleagues.

According to the New Paper, they showed up late “well after their morning shift had ended” or simply failed to show up for work.

Their action is not getting much sympathy from the Singapore public, which is generally happy to see a reduction of foreign workers.

A recent government survey showed that nine out of 10 Singaporeans support measures to tighten the inflow.

Other surveys revealed that the majority of people would prefer to settle for slower economic growth in return for a smaller population.

The impact could soon be felt in the labour front. Some small and medium size companies, desperate for workers, have said they may close.

The National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has just announced that new projects may take longer to complete – 32 to 43 months instead of the usual 30 months.

This revelation hardly stirred any reaction among the public, an indication that Singaporeans are prepared to accept the price for fewer foreign arrivals.

Friday, 1 March 2013

New Car Loan & ARF regulations - Reactions

New Car Loan & ARF regulations - Reactions

The MAS has just recently introduced new car loan restrictions, 50-60% limit on car loans with max loan tenure of 5 years. As well as high ARFs for more expensive cars. What has been the reaction on the ground?

Newly wedded couple Mr and Mrs Ting were sorely disappointed, "We were looking at a normal size car to allow us to drive to work and not have to squeeze in the over-crowded MRT and buses. With the large downpayment buying a car is out of our league. I guess I would have to enjoy, oops I mean tolerate being molested by all the Banglas on the train." exasperated Mr Ting.

We also managed to interview Mr Jian Chen from China, who kindly put down his Vertu handphone to talk to us. We found out that he was a provincal official in some obsure part of China, living it large in Singapore. We asked if the ARF would affect his car buying decision making. "Mei Wun Ti! Mei Wun Ti! Wo can afford luxury MerzBenzt ah, just siphon more public money only, sure can pay!"

Car dealers however were more worried and concerned, Mdm Buay Bac-side lamented,"Aiyoh, you know now with all these measures, less people will buy cars, I cannot make enough commission to upkeep my lifestyle. The new Birkin bag is coming out! How to afford!"

It seems that the only people thrilled by the prospects of the new car measures were un-licensed money lenders. Mr Tau Yi-Long exuded excitedly, " I tell you har, I luv this goverman! When they build two new casinos in Singapore, my business go up 30%. Now with these new car measures, I offer blidging rloan to pay the down payment, my profits sure sky rocket one! The goverman is like the Big Brother of loan sharks, oops I mean money lender. They so steady-pom pee pee. I have the group photo of the goverman ministers on my altar and every morning I burn three joss sticks for them. You know like Guan Gong!"

Monday, 4 February 2013

Finally! Singaporeans First for Property !

Singaporeans First for Property ! In the first place, why should PRs get to buy Singapore HDB flats. You convert to a Singaporean than buy!

According to official figures, about 2,300 Singapore permanent residents (PRs) who own Housing and Development Board (HDB) property will be impacted by the government's latest round of cooling measures.

From last Saturday (January 12), PRs owning HDB flats are no longer allowed to sublet their entire property even after the stipulated Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

Those PRs who have been already approved by HDB to sublet their flats prior to the introduction of the new measures will be allowed to continue with the subletting arrangement until the current tenancy expires.

According to data provided to PropertyGuru by the HDB, there were approximately 50,700 HDB flats owned by PR households as of December 2012 – roughly five percent of the total supply. Of these, HDB said around 2,300 PR households sublet their whole flats.

It is not known how many HDB-owning Singapore PRs were subletting their entire flats without approval from the housing board.

A spokesperson for HDB told PropertyGuru: "Subletting of the entire flat without HDB's approval is an infringement of the terms of the lease. Those who commit the infringement could have their flat compulsorily acquired by HDB."

Questioned about enforcement, the spokesperson added: "HDB conducts routine inspections of all HDB blocks. We also carry out regular checks on flats that have been approved for subletting and investigate suspected cases of unauthorised subletting.  Residents are encouraged to call our hotline at 1800 555 6370 (Monday to Friday – 8am to 5pm) to report any suspected cases of unauthorised subletting of flats."

Monday, 21 January 2013

Not all Opposition Parties are the same, c 4 yourself

Not all Opposition Parties are the same, see for yourself

WP Rally 19 Jan 2013

RP Rally 20 Jan 2013

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Hong Kong, Singapore Home Prices to Halve?


Hong Kong, Singapore Home Prices to Halve?

A consequence of rising prices will be an inevitable hike in interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve as well as central banks in Asia. This may finally burst a property bubble that's been fuelled by low interest rates in cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong, Xie said.
"The Fed has basically outlined a 2.5 percent inflation limit and so when inflation rises above that, they have to explain why they are not raising interest rates," Xie said.

"In Hong Kong and Singapore, the issue is very much about interest rates. So it's going to be similar to 1998," he added, referring to the property bubble that burst at the peak of the Asian financial crisis.

House prices in the two cities could plunge by half if interest rates go up, he added.
Private home prices in Singapore have risen 56 percent since 2007 and most analysts expect this upward trajectory to continue into the New Year, citing record low benchmark rates for home loans.
In Hong Kong, house prices climbed by about 20 percent in 2012, after gaining 60 percent over the past decade. This was also driven by record low mortgage rates and an inflow of foreign money."